You seem to be better – hooray! But still recovering – if the yawning lump that I dragged around the Dromkeen Literary Festival on the weekend is anything to go by…
It was our second year at the festival and while a couple of presenters did repeats (which did not impress certain fussy-customers – yes, you and the Over-Achiever) it was an inspiring day.
First up, we went to a session chaired by my author friend Claire Saxby chatting with Mark Wilson and Gabrielle Wang. The most fascinating thing to come out of that was both Mark and Gabrielle talking about the critical importance of setting in their works.
For Gabrielle’s new book, coming out in April, The Beast of Hushing Wood, she travelled to America and stayed with a friend near the Berkshire Woods to immerse herself in a proper wood. In the novel, the wood is a character and creates the mood for the story. So for
Gabrielle getting this setting – with all it’s gorgeous little animals which she drew on her travels – was essential. She showed us photos and drawings of uniquely American wood critters including a woodpecker, deer, squirrels, chipmunks, bears and a groundhog.
There was a sharp intake of collective breathe when she revealed the book had gone through 60 rewrites. I’m really looking forward to reading it. Gabrielle gave us a privileged sneak-peak into her visual diary – she draws something in there every day. Duly inspired I bought myself a visual diary at Officeworks today and plan to start doodling.
My other favourite talk was by author Glenda Millard whose swoon-worthy The Stars at Oktober Bend is one of my recent favourite reads. Glenda talked eloquently about the importance of surrender and trust in writing. She talked about being commissioned to write something for The Hush Treasure book. The book was a fundraiser for the Royal Children’s Hospital, specifically for kids undergoing cancer treatment. As a precursor to writing, Glenda and her illustrator Stephen Michael King were given a tour of the hospital and introduced to patients and parents. Glenda revealed that she had recently experienced a gruelling time with bereavement and illness. She came away from the tour feeling completely inadequate to come up with something that might give kids hope.
She told Stephen and he emailed her some quotes from Leonard Cohen songs that spoke to her. Shortly, thereafter she wrote a beautiful poem which went into the book and is soon to be published as a picture book, The Pea Pod Lullaby. Glenda’s take home message was to write about things that matter to you!
Now, hurry up and finish The Boundless Sublime because I need to get cracking!
Yours, Mummy Bear x